On May 2, friends Lacy Edwards, who wryly insists she isn’t a day older than 50, and Mike Edwards, 69, walked down Zionsville’s Main Street, peering in closed shops, questioning whether an open door meant it was OK to enter or the owner simply wanted to let in the warm outdoor breeze.
Across the street, The Friendly Tavern delivered white plastic bags filled with food to customers in an adjacent parking lot. The restaurant, Zionsville’s oldest, had temporarily shuttered March 30, when restaurants were ordered to close dine-in services.
Owner Scott Barnes wanted to ensure the safety of his employees and customers, so he completely closed the restaurant for at least 14 days, the same time as the new coronavirus’ estimated incubation period. The restaurant eventually opened to curbside delivery April 29, and in the four days following, it sold 4,000 pounds of wings.
As employees walked out with masks to deliver orders, dripping sweat from the heat of the kitchen and sun, a group of a dozen of so teenage boys on bicycles, some shirtless and wearing swimming trunks, none wearing masks, waited under a tree a few yards away. Main Street was busier than normal, one day after Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced a five-stage plan to reopen most of the state’s economy. Groups of friends and families gathered on patios, eating ice cream. Couples walked hand-in-hand. Others took pets for walks. Many rode bicycles.
Barnes approves of the governor’s plan. He said every business would love to reopen and get back to normal but doing so gradually is the only way to get there. In the meantime, he hopes the meat supply chain doesn’t unravel. He hasn’t been able to order certain meat products, especially pork, and said inflated prices for other meats are all but assured.
A day after the statewide stay-at-home executive order expired, some customers shared wings on a shaded patch of grass across from the restaurant. Lacy and Mike happened upon a lit open sign. Lacy was scared. She said it’s too soon to let residents patronize nonessential businesses. More Indiana residents are diagnosed with COVID-19 each day, and death tolls continue to climb.
Mike, however, has no problem with the state reopening nonessential businesses. He said if data shows the state can gradually reopen, it could save more businesses and help the unemployed.
“It’s a tough call, there’s no doubt about it,” Mike said.
“A tough call and common sense,” Lacy said.
Lacy feels sorry for shuttered businesses. She understands they are hurting but she also wants people to be safe.
“I think it’s good to have Zionsville back open again,” Mike said. “I mean it’s just — there’s no right or wrong answer. It’s just more of an opinion of where you are on the age scale and where you are as far as —”
“I don’t know if I agree about the age scale,” Lacy said. “What, as if the older you are the more it’s OK to get sick and pass away? No. No, to me it doesn’t matter what age you are.”
Cars drove by occasionally, their engines temporarily interrupting their conversation. During the stay-at-home order, birds would often make more noise than cars. Main Street was almost completely empty. On this day, cars occupied parking spots reserved for curbside orders, their drivers having no intention to pick up food.
Karin Glass, owner of Serenity, sat inside her restaurant on Main Street, front door ajar, as a car parked in a designated curbside parking space in front of the building. She asked the driver if he was there for an order, but he didn’t answer. He just stared out the driver side window. Earlier, a man and woman did the same thing, but they ignored Glass’ questions by kissing. Glass left them alone.
“Eh, they’re making out,” she said.
Lacy and Mike stopped in front of another storefront.
“I would hate to see this turn into a virtual world, because everything has turned into a virtual world and so forth,” Mike said. “I want to see people come back out and interact and not be stuck inside.”
“Well, of course, we all want that,” Lacy said.
Farther down Main Street, in a storefront surrounded by hanging and potted plants, Donna Lennox Hobson readied her new business. She planned to celebrate the grand opening of her flower shop, Events and Florals of Zionsville, April 4 but couldn’t because of the governor’s executive order closing nonessential businesses.
Since March, Lennox Hobson has been uncertain how to plan for her business’ future. For weeks, she and her husband had prepped the shop themselves, hauling pots, displays and decorations while they awaited news of when the store could open. She informed staff their jobs would not be available until an unknown date. Revenue shrank. Expenses continued. Then, she discovered May 1 she had less than 72 hours to prepare to open her business. Gov. Eric Holcomb had announced during a virtual press briefing that retail and commercial businesses like hers would be allowed to open at 50 percent capacity May 4.
Lennox Hobson, who was raised in Zionsville, owns another floral business in Cincinnati. She recently moved to Zionsville after marrying, and expected the new business to be more of the same. Instead, it has been challenging. Lennox Hobson regularly only receives about half of her daily floral orders because of the pandemic. Most orders come from South America, and customs have held up many of her shipments. Ahead of the floral industry’s most important business celebration, Mother’s Day, she scrambled to get ready for May 10.
On the other side of Main Street, Lacy and Mike continue disagreeing on whether it was safe to enter a reopened business.
“You would go in sooner than me,” Lacy said.
“Yeah, I’d probably have a face mask on, you know,” Mike said.
“Well, you can’t eat with a face mask on,” Lacy said.